Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Dec 2010

Fatty liver disease

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.

S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial.

OBJECTIVE: Despite the progressive increase in the number of antidepressants, many patients with major depressive disorder continue to be symptomatic. Clearly, there is an urgent need to develop better tolerated and more effective treatments for this disorder. The use of S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), a naturally occurring molecule that serves as a methyl donor in human cellular metabolism, as adjunctive treatment for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder represents one such effort toward novel pharmacotherapy development. METHOD: Participants were 73 serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) nonresponders with major depressive disorder enrolled in a 6-week, double-blind, randomized trial of adjunctive oral SAMe (target dose: 800 mg/twice daily). Patients continued to receive their SRI treatment at a stable dose throughout the 6-week trial. The primary outcome measure for the study was the response rates according to the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D).RESULTS: The HAM-D response and remission rates were higher for patients treated with adjunctive SAMe (36.1% and 25.8%, respectively) than adjunctive placebo (17.6% versus 11.7%, respectively). The number needed to treat for response and remission was approximately one in six and one in seven, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in the proportion of SAMe- versus placebo-treated patients who discontinued the trial for any reason (20.6% versus 29.5%, respectively), due to adverse events (5.1% versus 8.8%, respectively), or due to inefficacy (5.1% versus 11.7%, respectively).CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results suggest that SAMe can be an effective, well-tolerated, and safe adjunctive treatment strategy for SRI nonresponders with major depressive disorder and warrant replication.

Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Aug;167(8):942-8

S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) as an adjunct for resistant major depressive disorder: an open trial following partial or nonresponse to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this open trial was to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of oral S-adenosyl-L-methionine as an antidepressant adjunct among partial and nonresponders to serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine. METHOD: Thirty antidepressant-treated adult outpatients with persisting major depressive disorder received 800 to 1600 mg of S-adenosyl-L-methionine tosylate over a 6-week trial. RESULTS: Intent-to-treat analyses based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale revealed a response rate of 50% and a remission rate of 43% following augmentation with S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Gastrointestinal symptoms and headaches were the most common side effects.CONCLUSION: Augmentation of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or venlafaxine with S-adenosyl-L-methionine warrants a placebo-controlled trial in resistant depression.

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2004 Dec;24(6):661-4

Getting the balance right: Established and emerging therapies for major depressive disorders.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common and serious illness of our times, associated with monoamine deficiency in the brain. Moreover, increased levels of cortisol, possibly caused by stress, may be related to depression. In the treatment of MDD, the use of older antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants is decreasing rapidly, mainly due to their adverse effect profiles. In contrast, the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors and newer antidepressants, which have dual modes of action such as inhibition of the serotonin and noradrenaline or dopamine reuptake, is increasing. Novel antidepressants have additive modes of action such as agomelatine, a potent agonist of melatonin receptors. Drugs in development for treatment of MDD include triple reuptake inhibitors, dual-acting serotonin reuptake inhibitors and histamine antagonists, and many more. Newer antidepressants have similar efficacy and in general good tolerability profiles. Nevertheless, compliance with treatment for MDD is poor and may contribute to treatment failure. Despite the broad spectrum of available antidepressants, there are still at least 30% of depressive patients who do not benefit from treatment. Therefore, new approaches in drug development are necessary and, according to current research developments, the future of antidepressant treatment may be promising.

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2010 Sep 7;6:343-64

Polyunsaturated fatty acid and S-adenosylmethionine supplementation in predementia syndromes and Alzheimer’s disease: a review.

A growing body of evidence indicates that nutritional supplements can improve cognition; however, which supplements are effective remains controversial. In this review article, we focus on dietary supplementation suggested for predementia syndromes and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), with particular emphasis on S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Very recent findings confirmed that SAMe can exert a direct effect on glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity. AD is accompanied by reduced GST activity, diminished SAMe, and increased S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH), the downstream metabolic product resulting from SAMe-mediated transmethylation reactions, when deprived of folate. Therefore, these findings underscored the critical role of SAM in maintenance of neuronal health, suggesting a possible role of SAMe as a neuroprotective dietary supplement for AD patients. In fact, very recent studies on early-stage AD patients and moderate- to late-stage AD patients were conducted with a nutriceutical supplementation that included SAMe, with promising results. Given recent findings from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) in which n-3 PUFA supplementation was effective only in very mild AD subgroups or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), we suggest future intervention trials using measures of dietary supplementation (dietary n-3 PUFA and SAMe plus B vitamin supplementation) to determine if such supplements will reduce the risk for cognitive decline in very mild AD and MCI. Therefore, key supplements are not necessarily working in isolation and the most profound impact, or in some cases the only impact, is noted very early in the course of AD, suggesting that nutriceutical supplements may bolster pharmacological approaches well past the window where supplements can work on their own. Recommendations regarding future research on the effects of SAMe or n-3 PUFA supplementation on predementia syndromes and very mild AD include properly designed RCTs that are sufficiently powered and with an adequate length (e.g., 3-5 years of follow-up).

Scientific World Journal. 2009 May 22;9:373-89

Dietary supplements for osteoarthritis.

A large number of dietary supplements are promoted to patients with osteoarthritis and as many as one third of those patients have used a supplement to treat their condition. Glucosamine-containing supplements are among the most commonly used products for osteoarthritis. Although the evidence is not entirely consistent, most research suggests that glucosamine sulfate can improve symptoms of pain related to osteoarthritis, as well as slow disease progression in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Chondroitin sulfate also appears to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms and is often combined with glucosamine, but there is no reliable evidence that the combination is more effective than either agent alone. S-adenosylmethionine may reduce pain but high costs and product quality issues limit its use. Several other supplements are promoted for treating osteoarthritis, such as methylsulfonylmethane, Harpagophytum procumbens (devil’s claw), Curcuma longa (turmeric), and Zingiber officinale (ginger), but there is insufficient reliable evidence regarding long-term safety or effectiveness.

Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 15;77(2):177-84

Switching treatments for complicated depression.

The majority of depressed patients will not experience remission when treated with a first-line antidepressant. As a next-step strategy for patients who achieve partial response to the initial antidepressant, clinicians may opt to augment the first antidepressant with another medication or combine it with a second antidepressant. For nonresponders or for patients experiencing intolerable side effects, clinicians may choose to switch medications. Switching can be done within the same drug class to obtain different pharmacologic properties, or to another class to obtain a different neurochemical effect. Switching appears to be fairly well tolerated and effective for patients with treatment-resistant depression, but should be tailored to the individual patient’s needs and preferences.

J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;71(2):e04

Pharmacodynamic studies on the central mode of action of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) infusions in elderly subjects, utilizing EEG mapping and psychometry.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study, the acute and subacute effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), or ademetionine, on brain function and behavior of 10 elderly normal healthy volunteers (5 males and 5 females, aged 56-71 years, mean: 59.3 years) were investigated by means of EEG mapping and psychometry. In random order they received infusions of 800 mg SAMe and placebo, administered over 30 minutes for 7 days, with a wash-out period of 3 weeks in between. EEG recordings and psychometric tests were carried out 0, 1, 3 and 6 hours after drug administration on days 1 and 7. Multivariate analysis based on MANOVA/Hotelling T(2) tests demonstrated significant central effects of SAMe as compared with placebo after acute, subacute and superimposed drug administration. Acute SAMe-induced changes were characterized by a decrease in total power, an increase in absolute delta and a decrease in absolute alpha power, further by an increase in relative delta and a decrease in relative alpha power, a slowing of the delta/theta centroid as well as a slowing of the centroid of the total power spectrum. These changes are typical of classical antidepressants of the thymoleptic type such as imipramine and amitriptyline. After one week of daily infusions there was a marked increase in total power, reminiscent of nootropic drug effects. One additional superimposed dosage mitigated these effects in the direction of an antidepressant profile, with the inter-drug differences waning in the 6(th) hour. Our pharmaco-EEG findings suggest both inhibitory and excitatory drug effects underlying the antidepressant properties of SAMe well-documented in clinical trials. Psychometric tests concerning noopsychic and thymopsychic measures as well as critical flicker frequency generally demonstrated a lack of differences between SAMe and placebo, which again reflects a good tolerability of the drug in elderly subjects.

J Neural Transm. 2002 Dec;109(12):1505-26

Electrophysiological neuroimaging of the central effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine by mapping of electroencephalograms and event-related potentials and low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography.

BACKGROUND: S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe, or ademetionine) is a naturally occurring molecule used as both a nutraceutical and a pharmaceutical to treat depression. OBJECTIVE: The central mode of action of SAMe was investigated in 20 healthy volunteers by mapping of electroencephalograms (EEGs) and event-related potentials (ERPs) and low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA).

DESIGN: In an acute and subacute, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, subjects received in random order infusions of 800 mg SAMe and placebo for 7 d, with a washout period of 3 wk between the 2 treatment periods. EEG recordings were made 0, 1, 3, and 6 h after and ERP recordings were made 0 and 1 h after the drug infusions on days 1 and 7. RESULTS: Multivariate analyses of variance and Hotelling T2 tests showed significant acute and subacute encephalotropic effects of SAMe compared with placebo. Acute pharmaco-EEG changes were typical of classic antidepressants of the thymoleptic type; subacute alterations were typical of cognition enhancers. Regarding ERPs, standard N1 and P2 latencies were shortened, and target P300 latencies were lengthened. N1 amplitudes increased after subacute treatment, and temporooccipital P300 amplitudes increased after the acute dose. Similar changes were described for antidepressants. LORETA showed that the N2 source strength increased in both the left and the right temporal lobes, whereas the P300 source strength increased in the dorsolateral prefrontal regions and decreased in the ventral limbic regions. CONCLUSION: EEG-ERP mapping identified SAMe as an antidepressant. LORETA targeted brain regions crucial in the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressants.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1162S-71S

The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression.

Depression is common - one-fourth of the U.S. population will have a depressive episode sometime in life. Folate deficiency is also relatively common in depressed people, with approximately one-third of depressed individuals having an outright deficiency. Folate is a water-soluble B-vitamin necessary for the proper biosynthesis of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. The active metabolite of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF, L-methylfolate), participates in re-methylation of the amino acid metabolite homocysteine, creating methionine. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the downstream metabolite of methionine, is involved in numerous biochemical methyl donation reactions, including reactions forming monoamine neurotransmitters. Without the participation of 5-MTHF in this process, SAMe and neurotransmitter levels decrease in the cerebrospinal fluid, contributing to the disease process of depression. SAMe supplementation was shown to improve depressive symptoms. 5-MTHF also appears to stabilize, enhance production of, or possibly act as a substitute for, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), an essential cofactor in monoamine neurotransmitter biosynthesis. There are few intervention studies of folic acid or 5-MTHF as a stand-alone treatment for depression related to folate deficiency; however, the studies that have been conducted are promising. Depressed individuals with low serum folate also tend to not respond well to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs. Correcting the insufficiency by dosing folate along with the SSRI results in a significantly better antidepressant response.

Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):216-26

Adrenal androgens and aging.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are the principal C19 steroids produced by the human adrenals. Their plasma levels decline to less than 20% of their maximal value during aging. Because these steroids appear to play a role in the maintenance of immunity, musculoskeletal integrity, and cardiovascular health, age-associated declines in adrenal androgen production may contribute to decreased immune function, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis. Production of DHEA and DHEAS has been localized to the zona reticularis (ZR) of the adrenal cortex and can be modulated by intra-adrenal or extra-adrenal modulators. Extra-adrenal modulators include corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), insulin, and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). Intra-adrenal regulators include enzymes and proteins involved in the steroidogenic pathway, specifically 17,20 lyase activity and DHEA sulfotransferase (DST). The natural histories of the emergence of adrenal androgen production and the ontogeny of the ZR appear to correlate closely. In addition, aging results in a decline in adrenal androgen production, and our data suggest a parallel diminution in the area represented by the ZR. This decline in the ZR may result from apoptosis, cellular and humoral immunity, or a reduction in the replicative capacity of the cells of the ZR.

Semin Reprod Med. 2004 Nov;22(4):361-8

The in vitro effects of dehydroepiandrosterone on human osteoarthritic chondrocytes.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the in vitro effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on human osteoarthritic chondrocytes. DESIGN: Chondrocytes isolated from human osteoarthritic knee cartilage were three-dimensionally cultured in alginate beads, except for cell proliferation experiment. Cells were treated with DHEA in the presence or absence of IL-1beta. The effects on chondrocytes were analyzed using a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxy-phenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium inner salt (MTS) assay (for chondrocyte proliferation), a dimethylmethylene blue (DMB) assay (for glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis), and an indole assay (for DNA amount). Gene expressions of type I and II collagen, metalloproteinase-1 and -3 (MMP-1 and -3), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) as well as the IL-1beta-induced gene expressions of MMP-1 and -3 were analyzed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The protein synthesis of MMP-1 and -3 and TIMP-1 was determined by Western blotting. RESULTS: The treatment of chondrocytes with DHEA did not affect chondrocyte proliferation or GAG synthesis up to 100 micro M of concentration. The gene expression of type II collagen increased in a dose-dependent manner, while that of type I decreased. DHEA suppressed the expression of MMP-1 significantly at concentrations exceeding 50 micro M. The gene expression of MMP-3 was also suppressed, but this was without statistical significance. The expression of TIMP-1 was significantly increased by DHEA at concentrations exceeding 10 micro M. The effects of DHEA on the gene expressions of MMP-1 and -3 were more prominent in the presence of IL-1beta, in which DHEA suppressed not only MMP-1, but also MMP-3 at the lower concentrations, 10 and 50 micro M, respectively. Western blotting results were in agreement with RT-PCR, which indicates that DHEA acts at the gene transcription level. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that DHEA has no toxic effect on chondrocytes up to 100 micro M of concentration and has an ability to modulate the imbalance between MMPs and TIMP-1 during OA at the transcription level, which suggest that it has a protective role against articular cartilage loss.

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2003 Aug;11(8):585-94

Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy on bone mineral density in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial.

CONTEXT: Dehydroepian-drosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) decrease with aging and are important androgen and estrogen precursors in older adults. Declines in DHEAS with aging may contribute to physiological changes that are sex hormone dependent. OBJECTIVE: The aim was to determine whether DHEA replacement increases bone mineral density (BMD) and fat-free mass. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial was conducted at an academic research institution. Participants were 70 women and 70 men, aged 60-88 yr, with low serum DHEAS levels. INTERVENTION: The intervention was oral DHEA 50 mg/d or placebo for 12 months.MEASUREMENTS: BMD, fat mass, and fat-free mass were measured before and after intervention. RESULTS: Intent-to-treat analyses revealed trends for DHEA to increase BMD more than placebo at the total hip (1.0%, P = 0.05), trochanter (1.2%, P = 0.06), and shaft (1.2%, P = 0.05). In women only, DHEA increased lumbar spine BMD (2.2%, P = 0.04; sex-by-treatment interaction, P = 0.05). In secondary compliance analyses, BMD increases in hip regions were significant (1.2-1.6%; all P < 0.02) in the DHEA group. There were no significant effects of DHEA on fat or fat-free mass in intent-to-treat or compliance analyses. CONCLUSIONS: DHEA replacement therapy for 1 yr improved hip BMD in older adults and spine BMD in older women. Because there have been few randomized, controlled trials of the effects of DHEA therapy, these findings support the need for further investigations of the benefits and risks of DHEA replacement and the mechanisms for its actions.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Aug;91(8):2986-93

Effect of DHEA on abdominal fat and insulin action in elderly women and men: a randomized controlled trial.

CONTEXT: Dehydroepian-drosterone (DHEA) administration has been shown to reduce accumulation of abdominal visceral fat and protect against insulin resistance in laboratory animals, but it is not known whether DHEA decreases abdominal obesity in humans. DHEA is widely available as a dietary supplement without a prescription. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether DHEA replacement therapy decreases abdominal fat and improves insulin action in elderly persons. DESIGN AND SETTING: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in a US university-based research center from June 2001 to February 2004. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-six elderly persons (28 women and 28 men aged 71 [range, 65-78] years) with age-related decrease in DHEA level. INTERVENTION: Participants were randomly assigned to receive 50 mg/d of DHEA or matching placebo for 6 months. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measures were 6-month change in visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat measured by magnetic resonance imaging and glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). RESULTS: Of the 56 men and women enrolled, 52 underwent follow-up evaluations. Compliance with the intervention was 97% in the DHEA group and 95% in the placebo group. Based on intention-to-treat analyses, DHEA therapy compared with placebo induced significant decreases in visceral fat area (-13 cm2 vs +3 cm2, respectively; P = .001) and subcutaneous fat (-13 cm2 vs +2 cm2, P = .003). The insulin area under the curve (AUC) during the OGTT was significantly reduced after 6 months of DHEA therapy compared with placebo (-1119 muU/mL per 2 hours vs +818 muU/mL per 2 hours, P = .007). Despite the lower insulin levels, the glucose AUC was unchanged, resulting in a significant increase in an insulin sensitivity index in response to DHEA compared with placebo (+1.4 vs -0.7, P = .005). CONCLUSION: DHEA replacement could play a role in prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome associated with abdominal obesity.

JAMA. 2004 Nov 10;292(18):2243-8

Effects of DHEA administration on episodic memory, cortisol and mood in healthy young men: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

RATIONALE: Dehydroepian-drosterone (DHEA) has been reported to enhance cognition in rodents, although there are inconsistent findings in humans. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of DHEA administration in healthy young men on episodic memory and its neural correlates utilising an event-related potential (ERP) technique. METHODS: Twenty-four healthy young men were treated with a 7-day course of oral DHEA (150 mg b.d.) or placebo in a double blind, random, crossover and balanced order design. Subjective mood and memory were measured using visual analogue scales (VASs). Cortisol concentrations were measured in saliva samples. ERPs were recorded during retrieval in an episodic memory test. Low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) was used to identify brain regions involved in the cognitive task. RESULTS: DHEA administration led to a reduction in evening cortisol concentrations and improved VAS mood and memory. Recollection accuracy in the episodic memory test was significantly improved following DHEA administration. LORETA revealed significant hippocampal activation associated with successful episodic memory retrieval following placebo. DHEA modified ERPs associated with retrieval and led to a trend towards an early differential activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). CONCLUSIONS: DHEA treatment improved memory recollection and mood and decreased trough cortisol levels. The effect of DHEA appears to be via neuronal recruitment of the steroid sensitive ACC that may be involved in pre-hippocampal memory processing. These findings are distinctive, being the first to show such beneficial effects of DHEA on memory in healthy young men.

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006 Nov;188(4):541-51

Improvement of sustained attention and visual and movement skills, but not clinical symptoms, after dehydroepiandrosterone augmentation in schizophrenia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.

BACKGROUND: Dehydroe-piandrosterone (DHEA) augmentation has been reported, in a preliminary fashion, to be useful in the management of schizophrenia symptoms and side effects. In this study, the intention was to investigate the efficacy and safety of DHEA administration to ongoing antipsychotic medication in a multicenter, 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. METHODS: Fifty-five of 62 inpatients and outpatients with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, diagnosis of schizophrenia completed the trial. Patients were randomly allocated to 2 treatment groups receiving either DHEA (200 mg/d) or placebo for 6 weeks with the crossover between DHEA and placebo occurring after 6 weeks. Patients continued to receive their regular antipsychotic medication for the duration of the study. RESULTS: Compared with placebo, DHEA administration did not produce significant improvement in clinical symptoms, side effects, and quality-of-life scores. However, 6 weeks of DHEA administration (but not placebo) was associated with a significant improvement in Positive and Negative Symptom Scale ratings compared with baseline. Furthermore, 6 weeks of DHEA treatment was associated with significant improvement in cognitive functions of visual sustained attention and visual and movement skills compared with placebo conditions. The DHEA augmentation was associated with elevations of serum concentrations of both DHEA and its sulfate ester. The DHEA treatment was well tolerated without any serious adverse effects. CONCLUSION: This short-term study does not support DHEA’s value as an effective adjunct in the treatment of symptoms, side effects, and quality-of-life impairment in schizophrenia, while suggesting that DHEA improves sustained attention and visual and movement skills. A long-term, large-scale study with a broader dose range is warranted to further investigate DHEA’s role in the management of schizophrenia.

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Oct;26(5):495-9

Dehydroepiandrosterone monotherapy in midlife-onset major and minor depression.

CONTEXT: Alternative and over-the-counter medicines have become increasingly popular choices for many patients who prefer not to take traditional antidepressants. The adrenal androgen and neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is available as over-the-counter hormonal therapy and previously has been reported to have antidepressant-like effects. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of DHEA as a monotherapy treatment for midlife-onset depression. DESIGN: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover treatment study was performed from January 4, 1996, through August 31, 2002. Settings The National Institute of Mental Health Midlife Outpatient Clinic in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Md. Patients Men (n = 23) and women (n = 23) aged 45 to 65 years with midlife-onset major or minor depression participated in this study. None of the subjects received concurrent antidepressant medications. Intervention Six weeks of DHEA therapy, 90 mg/d for 3 weeks and 450 mg/d for 3 weeks, and 6 weeks of placebo. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The 17-Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Additional measures included the Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning. Results were analyzed by means of repeated-measures analysis of variance and post hoc Bonferroni t tests. RESULTS: Six weeks of DHEA administration was associated with a significant improvement in the 17-Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale ratings compared with both baseline (P<.01) and 6 weeks of placebo treatment (P<.01). A 50% or greater reduction in baseline Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores was observed in 23 subjects after DHEA and in 13 subjects after placebo treatments. Six weeks of DHEA treatment also was associated with significant improvements in Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning scores relative to baseline and placebo conditions. CONCLUSION: We find DHEA to be an effective treatment for midlife-onset major and minor depression.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Feb;62(2):154-62

Association of plasma sex hormone levels with functional decline in elderly men and women.

AIM: We aimed to determine whether plasma sex hormone levels are associated with activities of daily living (ADL), cognition, depression and vitality in elderly individuals with functional decline.METHODS: Two hundred and eight consecutive persons 70 years or older (108 men and 100 women; mean +/- standard deviation, 81 +/- 7 years) with a chronic stable condition, receiving long-term care at a long-term care facilities located in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, were enrolled. Plasma total testosterone, free testosterone (only in men), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) and estradiol levels were determined in the morning after an overnight fast. Comprehensive geriatric assessment was performed including basic ADL by Barthel Index, instrumental ADL, cognitive function by Hasegawa Dementia Scale--Revised, mood by Geriatric Depression Scale and ADL-related vitality by Vitality Index. RESULTS: Simple regression analysis showed that, in men, plasma total and free testosterone levels were associated with basic ADL (R = 0.292 and R = 0.282), instrumental ADL (R = 0.261 and R = 0.408), cognitive function (R = 0.393 and R = 0.553) and vitality (R = 0.246 and R = 0.396), while DHEA(-S) was associated with cognitive function, and estradiol with cognitive function as well as vitality. In women, the only significant correlation was between DHEA(-S) and basic ADL. Adjustment for age and nutritional markers did not influence the associations of plasma sex hormone levels with functional scores except for that of free testosterone with Barthel Index. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that sex hormones have sex-specific associations with physical and neuropsychiatric functions in elderly individuals, and that endogenous testosterone is related to global function in elderly men.

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2009 Sep;9(3):282-9

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and cognitive function in the elderly: The InCHIANTI Study.

DHEA and its sulfate derivative (DHEAS) decline with age. The decline in DHEAS levels has been associated with many physiological impairments in older persons including cognitive dysfunction. However, data regarding the possible relationship between DHEAS and cognition are scant. We investigated whether DHEAS levels are associated with presence and development of lower cognitive function measured by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) in older men and women. One thousand and thirty-four residents aged > or =65 yr of the InCHIANTI Study with data available on DHEAS and MMSE were randomly selected. MMSE was administered at baseline and 3 yr later. Among these, 841 completed a 3-yr follow-up. Parsimonious models obtained by backward selection from initial fully-adjusted models were used to identify independent factors associated with MMSE and DHEAS. The final analysis was performed in 755 participants (410 men and 345 women) with MMSE score > or =21. A significant age-related decline of both DHEAS levels (p<0.001) and MMSE score (p<0.001) was found over the 3-yr follow-up. At enrolment, DHEAS was significantly and positively associated with MMSE score, independently of age and other potential confounders (beta+/-SE 0.003+/-0.001, p<0.005). Low baseline DHEAS levels were predictive of larger decline of MMSE and this relationship was significant after adjusting for covariates (beta+/-SE -0.004+/-0.002, p<0.03). Our data show a significant and positive association between DHEAS and cognitive function, assessed by MMSE test. Low DHEAS levels predict accelerated decline in MMSE score during the 3-yr follow-up period.

J Endocrinol Invest. 2009 Oct;32(9):766-72

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels are associated with more favorable cognitive function in women.

CONTEXT: It has been proposed that dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) exert neuroprotective effects in the brain, yet evidence of associations between the endogenous levels of these steroids and measures of cognitive function is lacking. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to investigate whether circulating levels of DHEAS independently contribute to aspects of cognitive function in women in the community. DESIGN: This was a community-based, cross-sectional study. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred ninety-five women, aged 21-77 yr, were recruited from a community-based data set and participated between September 2003 and December 2004. Women were excluded if they reported any health condition that might potentially adversely affect cognitive function. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The individual scores of a comprehensive battery of tests of cognitive function and the serum level of DHEAS (square root transformed) were measured.RESULTS: In the multiple linear regression analysis, the DHEAS term made a significant independent positive contribution to the Controlled Oral Word Association Test score, a measure of executive function. In addition, women with a DHEAS level in the highest tertile who also had more than 12 yr of education performed better on both Digit Span Forward and Digit Span Backward tests, which are tests of simple concentration and working memory, respectively.CONCLUSIONS: Higher endogenous DHEAS levels are independently and favorably associated with executive function, concentration, and working memory.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;93(3):801-8

The role of adiponectin in the pathogenesis and treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is recognized as the most common type of chronic liver disease in Western countries and the leading cause of cryptogenic cirrhosis. Insulin resistance (IR) is a key factor in the pathogenesis of NAFLD, the latter being considered as the hepatic component of IR or metabolic syndrome (MetS). Although the pathogenesis of NAFLD is not fully elucidated, a complex interaction between adipokines and cytokines produced by adipocytes and/or inflammatory cells infiltrating adipose tissue appears to play a crucial role in MetS and NAFLD. Adiponectin is the most abundant and adipose-specific adipokine. In the liver, adiponectin acts through the activation of 5-AMP-activated protein kinase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha pathways and inhibition of toll-like receptor-4 mediated signalling. There is an evidence that adiponectin decreases hepatic and systematic IR and attenuates liver inflammation and fibrosis. Adiponectin generally predicts steatosis grade and severity of NAFLD, but it remains to be addressed to what extent this is a direct effect or related to the presence of more severe IR. Although there is no proven pharmacotherapy for the treatment of NAFLD, recent therapeutic strategies have focused on the indirect upregulation of adiponectin through the administration of various therapeutic agents and/or lifestyle modifications. Weight loss, through diet, lifestyle changes and/or medications including orlistat, sibutramine, rimonabant or bariatric surgery, increase adiponectin and may improve liver histology. Insulin sensitizers, including pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, and lipid-lowering agents, including statins and fibrates, also upregulate adiponectin and ameliorate liver histology. The wider use of new treatment approaches appears to signal the dawn of a new era in the management of NAFLD. In this adiponectin-focused review, the pathogenetic role and the potential therapeutic benefits of adiponectin in NAFLD are systematically analysed.

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 May;12(5):365-83

The challenge of developing novel pharmacological therapies for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a series of hepatic pathologies that begin with relatively benign steatosis and can, with appropriate triggers, lead to the serious entity of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This sets the stage for liver fibrosis and finally the development of cirrhosis in up to 20% of patients with NASH. NAFLD, already among the most common diseases in industrialized countries, is increasing in prevalence and roughly affects 30% of US adults and 10% of US children alone. NAFLD is strongly associated with insulin resistance (IR) and represents the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. Indeed, treatments aimed at reducing IR are the current mainstay of therapeutic approaches to NAFLD. While lifestyle interventions may produce limited degrees of success, there remains an urgent need for improved pharmacological therapies. Emerging diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities as well as future developments in NAFLD, NASH and liver fibrosis were discussed by a panel of experts and are presented herein. Promising novel therapeutic targets include inhibitors of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 and the renin-angiotensin system. However, improved non-invasive technologies to diagnose and stage NAFLD are needed. Combined with a better understanding of the pathophysiological processes that underlie the mechanisms of hepatic fibrogenesis in NASH, rapid clinical validation of novel therapies is expected.

Liver Int. 2010 Jul;30(6):795-808

Review article: current management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

BACKGROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. AIM: To assess the epidemiological impact and the current management of patients with NAFLD. METHODS: Published peer-reviewed literature and abstracts concerning NAFLD and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) were reviewed. Articles specifically related to epidemiology, diagnosis and current treatment strategies for NAFLD and NASH are summarized. RESULTS: NAFLD is strongly associated with the epidemic of obesity and type-2 diabetes mellitus, and is estimated to affect about 20-30% of the population in the US. From the spectrum of NAFLD, only patients with biopsy-proven NASH (estimated prevalence in the US population is about 3-5%) have been convincingly shown to progress to cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. The clinical manifestation of NAFLD is usually absent or subtle, with abnormal aminotransferases or incidental radiographic findings of fatty liver. The pathogenesis of NAFLD is attributed to a multi-hit process involving insulin resistance, oxidative stress, apoptotic pathways, and adipocytokines. In 2008, there is no established treatment for NAFLD. Weight loss and treatment for each component of metabolic syndrome. Nevertheless, a large number of agents are being considered in clinical trials of patients with NASH. CONCLUSIONS: Awareness of the tremendous impact of NAFLD as an important cause of chronic liver disease is increasing along with a great deal of information about its pathogenesis. Future, well-designed clinical trials that target specific pathways involved in the pathogenesis of NASH are urgently needed.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Jul;28(1):2-12

Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) comprises a disease spectrum ranging from simple steatosis and steatohepatitis to cirrhosis. Based on its strongest risk factors namely visceral obesity and insulin resistance, NAFLD is thought to be the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome and is considered to be the most common liver disorder in Western countries. Pathophysiological mechanisms include an enlarged pool of fatty acids, subclinical inflammation, oxidative stress and imbalances of various adipocytokines such as adiponectin. Accordingly, targets for therapeutic interventions are miscellaneous: amelioration of obesity by pharmacological, surgical or lifestyle intervention has been evaluated with success in numerous, but not all studies. Some efficacy was reported for metformin and short-term glitazone treatment. In a large recently reported trial, vitamin E supplementation improved biochemical and histological markers in subjects with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Blockade of the endocannabinoid system has been proposed to be a promising target in NAFLD; however, very recently the cannabinoid receptor blocker rimonabant has been withdrawn because of central nervous system toxicity. Cytoprotective therapies and statins have been mainly ineffective in NAFLD. New but so far insufficiently studied therapeutic approaches include inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system as well as incretin mimetics respectively.

Int J Clin Pract. 2010 Jun;64(7):968-83

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis C infection.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now recognized as one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in Western Countries, and is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. The prevalence of NAFLD has increased with the global epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The pathophysiological hallmark of NAFLD is insulin resistance, associated with mediators of oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines. Although simple steatosis by itself is generally benign, patients with histologically proven non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can progress to cirrhosis. Hepatitis C (HCV) is another common cause of liver disease with some potential for progression to cirrhosis. Steatosis is present in almost 50% of patients infected by HCV. Hepatic steatosis in the setting of another liver disease (such as HCV) is associated liver disease progression. In particular, significant fibrosis is observed in patients with HCV whose liver biopsies show significant steatosis or superimposed NASH. This article reviews the host and viral factors potentially involved in the interaction between NAFLD and HCV. These factors include mediators of metabolic syndrome such as adipokines, inflammatory cytokines, factors associated with oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation products, as well as apoptosis and hepatic stellate cell activation with the resultant deposition of extracellular matrix. In addition to the mediators of metabolic syndrome (host factors), hepatic steatosis can be influenced by viral factors. The most important viral factor is HCV genotype 3, which has been independently associated with hepatic steatosis. Finally, superimposed NAFLD and visceral fat are associated with lower response rates to antiviral therapy in non-genotype 3 patients. Furthermore, viral clearance is associated with the resolution of hepatic steatosis in HCV genotype 3 but not other HCV genotypes. In these genotypes, hepatic steatosis and its impact on response to therapy are related to metabolic syndrome. Thus, the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome in patients with chronic hepatitis C may be important for reducing the risk of progression as well as improving the efficacy of antiviral therapy.

Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2006 Jun;52(2):135-43

The plasma lipidomic signature of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Specific alterations in hepatic lipid composition characterize the spectrum of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which extends from nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). However, the plasma lipidome of NAFLD and whether NASH has a distinct plasma lipidomic signature are unknown. A comprehensive analysis of plasma lipids and eicosanoid metabolites quantified by mass spectrometry was performed in NAFL (n = 25) and NASH (n = 50) subjects and compared with lean normal controls (n = 50). The key findings include significantly increased total plasma monounsaturated fatty acids driven by palmitoleic (16:1 n7) and oleic (18:1 n9) acids content (P < 0.01 for both acids in both NAFL and NASH). The levels of palmitoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitoleic acid to palmitic acid (16:0) ratio were significantly increased in NAFLD across multiple lipid classes. Linoleic acid (8:2n6) was decreased (P < 0.05), with a concomitant increase in gamma-linolenic (18:3n6) and dihomo gamma-linolenic (20:3n6) acids in both NAFL and NASH (P < 0.001 for most lipid classes). The docosahexanoic acid (22:6 n3) to docosapentenoic acid (22:5n3) ratio was significantly decreased within phosphatidylcholine (PC), and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) pools, which was most marked in NASH subjects (P < 0.01 for PC and P < 0.001 for PE). The total plasmalogen levels were significantly decreased in NASH compared with controls (P < 0.05). A stepwise increase in lipoxygenase (LOX) metabolites 5(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (5-HETE), 8-HETE, and 15-HETE characterized progression from normal to NAFL to NASH. The level of 11-HETE, a nonenzymatic oxidation product of arachidonic (20:4) acid, was significantly increased in NASH only. Conclusions: Although increased lipogenesis, desaturases, and LOX activities characterize NAFL and NASH, impaired peroxisomal polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) metabolism and nonenzymatic oxidation is associated with progression to NASH.

Hepatology. 2009 Dec;50(6):1827-38

Antioxidant supplements for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and/or steatohepatitis.

BACKGROUND: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterised by fatty deposition in the hepatocytes of patients with minimal or no alcohol intake and without other known cause. NAFLD includes a wide spectrum of histologic abnormalities ranging from hepatic steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or even cirrhosis. Antioxidant supplements, therefore, could potentially protect cellular structures against oxidative stress and the resulting lipid peroxidation. OBJECTIVES: To systematically evaluate the beneficial and harmful effects of antioxidant supplements versus no intervention, placebo, or other interventions for patients with NAFLD or NASH. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched The Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register (June 2006), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library (Issue 2, 2006), MEDLINE (1966 to June 2006), EMBASE (1980 to June 2006), and the Chinese Biomedical Database (1978 to June 2006). No language restrictions were applied. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised clinical trials evaluating any antioxidant supplements versus no intervention, placebo, or other interventions in patients with NAFLD or NASH. Our inclusion criteria for NAFLD or NASH were based on history of minimal or no alcohol intake, imaging techniques showing hepatic steatosis, and/or histological evidence of hepatic damage (including simple steatosis, fatty infiltration plus nonspecific inflammation, steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis), and by exclusion of other causes of hepatic steatosis. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We extracted data from the identified trials and contacted authors. We used a random-effects model and fixed-effect model with the significant level set at P = 0.05. We evaluated the methodological quality of the randomised trials by looking at how the generation of allocation sequence, allocation concealment, blinding, and follow-up were performed. We made our analyses following the intention-to-treat method by imputing missing data. MAIN RESULTS: We identified six trials: two were regarded of high methodological quality and four of low methodological quality. None of the trials reported any deaths. Treatment with antioxidant supplements showed a significant, though not clinically relevant, amelioration of aspartate aminotransferase levels, but not of alanine aminotransferase levels, as compared to placebo or other interventions. Gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase was decreased, albeit not significantly, in the treatment arm. Radiological and histological data were too limited to draw any definite conclusions on the effectiveness of these agents. Adverse events were non-specific and of no major clinical relevance. AUTHORS’ CONCLUSIONS: There is insufficient data to either support or refute the use of antioxidant supplements for patients with NAFLD. It may be advisable to carry out large prospective randomised clinical trials on this topic.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD004996

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—new view.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) covers a wide spectrum of liver pathology--from steatosis alone, through the necroinflammatory disorder of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) to cirrhosis and liver cancer. NAFLD/NASH is mostly related with visceral adiposity, obesity, type 2 diabetes melitus (DM t.2) and metabolic syndrome. Pathogenetic concepts of NAFLD include overnutrition and underactivity, insulin resistance (IR) and genetic factor. The prevalence of NAFLD has been estimated to be 17-33% in some countries, NASH may be present in about 1/3 of such cases, while 20-25% of NASH cases could progress to cirrhosis. NAFLD is now recognized as one of the most frequent reason of liver tests elevation without clinical symptoms. Insulin resistance is considering as having a central role in NAFLD pathogenesis. In hepatocytes, IR is related to hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia, formation of advanced glycation end-products, increased free fatty acids and their metabolites, oxidative stress and altered profiles of adipocytokines. Early stages of fatty liver are clinically silent and include elevation of ALT and GGTP, hyperechogenic liver in USG and/or hepatomegaly. Among clinical symptoms, abdominal discomfort is relatively common as well as chronic fatigue. NAFLD/NASH is not a benign disease, progressive liver biopsy have shown histological progression of fibrosis in 32%, the estimated rate of cirrhosis development is 20% and a liver--related death is 12% over 10 years. No treatment has scientifically proved to ameliorate NAFLD or to avoid its progression. The various therapeutic alternatives are aimed at interfering with the risk factors involved in the pathogenesis of the disorder in order to prevent the progression to end-stage liver disease. The most important therapeutic measure is increasing insulin sensitivity by an attempt to change a lifestyle mostly by dieting and physical activity in order to loose weight. The most used agent is metformin, the others are under controlled trials or their effectiveness is low. NASH is not a common indication for liver transplantation because of the older age distribution of patients and high prevalence of comorbidity, related to metabolic syndrome. Recurence of NASH in the grafted liver is also a relatively frequent complication.

Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2008 Jun;24(144):568-71

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease from pathogenesis to management: an update.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common chronic liver disease in the Western world, is tightly associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. NAFLD entails an increased cardiometabolic and liver-related risk, the latter regarding almost exclusively non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the progressive form of NAFLD. Pathogenetic models encompass altered hepatic lipid partitioning and adipokine action, increased oxidative stress, free fatty acid lipotoxicity. On this basis, lifestyle-, drug- or surgically induced weight loss, insulin sensitizers, antioxidants, lipid-lowering drugs have been evaluated in NAFLD/NASH. Most trials are small, of short duration, nonrandomized, without histological end points, thus limiting assessment of long-term safety and efficacy of proposed treatments. All NAFLD patients should be evaluated for their metabolic, cardiovascular and liver-related risk. Liver biopsy remains the gold standard for staging NAFLD, but non-invasive methods are under intense development. Weight loss through lifestyle intervention is the initial approach, because of established efficacy on NAFLD-associated cardiometabolic abnormalities, and to emerging benefits on necroinflammation and overall disease activity in NASH. Bariatric surgery warrants further evaluation before it can be routinely considered in morbidly obese NASH. Larger- and longer-duration randomized trials assessing safety and benefits of drugs on patient-oriented outcomes are needed before pharmacological treatment can be routinely recommended for NASH.

Obes Rev. 2010 Jun;11(6):430-45

Current and future therapeutic strategies in NAFLD.

Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasingly diagnosed worldwide and considered to be the commonest liver disorder in Western countries. It comprises a disease spectrum ranging from simple steatosis (fatty liver), through non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) to fat with fibrosis and ultimately cirrhosis. Simple steatosis is largely benign and non-progressive, whereas NASH, characterized by hepatocyte injury, inflammation and fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). NAFLD is strongly associated with obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension and dyslipidaemia and is now regarded as the liver manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. Rapid spread of the obesity ‘pandemic’ in adults and children, coupled with the realisation that the outcomes of obesity-related liver disease are not entirely benign, has led to rapid growth in clinical and basic studies in NAFLD over the past decade. These studies are now beginning to inform management strategies for patients with NAFLD.

Curr Pharm Des. 2010 Jun;16(17):1958-62